Managing the Twin Transformation: Driving Sustainability and Digitalisation in Organisations


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The growing sustainability trend challenges organisations in several ways, such as meeting customers’ increasingly sustainable mindsets as well as investors’ requests for companies’ sustainability performance. In terms of social sustainability, an organisation has to take care for societal aspirations and its employees, including sustainable Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. Simultaneously, the accelerating digitalisation leads to the need for organisations to implement digital technologies and thereby often re-design their processes. Facing these twofold challenges, organisations have recently started to realise that accelerating digitalisation by implementing digital technologies into their organisations might also be helpful to meet their sustainability goals. For instance, digital technologies can help organisations to reduce their carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency, and optimise resource management. Furthermore, digitalisation can enable organisations to develop innovative solutions, working conditions, and business models that support sustainable practices. 
Against this background, organisations are undergoing a transformation driven by two intertwined developments, digitalisation and sustainability, that is known as the twin transformation. The twin transformation is accompanied by the hope to secure economic growth within given natural limits based on the assumption that digital technologies can promote organisations to become more efficient and less harmful to their ecological and social environment. However, the relationship between these two developments is complex, raising the question of how to successfully manage the digital and sustainable transformation simultaneously by and within organisations. While sustainability topics and their implications for management research have been vividly debated in recent years, several studies point to the challenges digitalisation brings for organisations, their management, employees, and other stakeholders. But how to consider and integrate both digitalisation and sustainability into organisations in a complementary way has gained only little attention so far since pursuing digitalisation cannot be expected to lead to sustainable outcomes per se. For example, digital technologies can be facilitators, but also inhibitors of employees’ voice, as well as a challenge to employees’ rights, roles, and responsibilities. Digital technologies allow leaders to perform better informed data-based decision-making but also open the opportunity to monitor and control employees. Thus, digital technologies can improve or deteriorate working conditions as well as leading to ethical dilemmas when used to manipulate, assess, predict, or nudge individuals. 
These examples show that the twin transformation needs to be specifically designed and implemented to avoid undesired consequences. Hereby, organisations must undergo an organisation-wide change process to successfully co-integrate initiatives to reach both their sustainability and digital transformation goals. In transformation processes, organisational members and stakeholders play an important role because they are the ones who ultimately need to accept, implement and live those changes, emphasising the significance of considering the human factor in organisational change initiatives. However, little is known about how to successfully manage the twin transformation from a person-centric view, thereby adopting organisational members’ lenses. Moreover, research does not know whether well-intended organisational actions linked to the twin transformation will lead to desired or undesired employee reactions as well as how these reactions, in turn, influence the twin transformation effectiveness. Thus, research needs to contribute to our understanding of the intertwined character of the digital transformation and sustainable development in the context of concrete organisational practice of using digital technologies in a sustainable manner to successfully drive the twin transformation, its challenges, (un-)intended effects, and possible solutions; thereby considering the human side of transformation processes. 
In this respect, the Call for Papers welcomes conceptual, review, comparative, and empirical submissions focusing on the questions of how to simultaneously drive sustainability and digitalisation in organisations, how to manage it both in a responsible and economic way, and how this can be conceptualized. In line with a multilevel approach addressing respective practices and strategies from an individual and/or organisational level, we invite contributions from different disciplines to analyse this complex issue from various perspectives. Empirical papers should be theoretically grounded and refer to qualitative and/or quantitative data. We encourage interdisciplinary contributions that address the following potential issues: 

  • How are digital technologies and sustainability interrelated with or within organisations or branches?
  • What are the main drivers of and barriers to an organisation’s twin transformation?
  • How is sustainable behaviour promoted within organisations, especially with regard to the use of digital technologies?
  • What is the impact of consumers or investors to the organisation dealing with the twin transformation? 
  • What is the role of employees in an organisation’s twin transformation? 
  • Which corporate culture and leadership approach are conducive for implementing the twin transformation? 
  • What demands arise from driving the twin transformation in organisations and how do organisations and their internal and external stakeholders cope with them? 

List of Topic Areas

  • Twin transformation,
  • digitalisation,
  • sustainability,
  • employees and employee behaviour,
  • working conditions

Submissions Information

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Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Submissions open: 30 June 2024
Submissions close: 31 December 2024